Richard Boykin eyeing run for State's Attorney

Former commissioner says he's 'frustrated' with Kim Foxx's tenure in office

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By Michael Romain

Editor

A former 1st District Cook County Commissioner is considering a run for Cook County state's attorney in 2020. 

Richard Boykin, who served a term as commissioner from 2014 to 2018, said during an interview on Aug. 2 that he's strongly considering a run against current Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx. Boykin narrowly lost his bid for reelection in March to current 1st District Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. 

"We're talking to people, meeting with folks and seriously considering it," Boykin said. "I've been quite frustrated with the lack of results on gun violence and violent crimes for a while, quite frankly." 

Boykin also criticized what he believed to be Foxx's lackluster approach to prosecuting government corruption. 

"Public corruption is rampant throughout Cook County and the state's attorney has been absent when it comes to going after it," said Boykin, who is a practicing attorney and was once Congressman Danny K. Davis's chief of staff.

Foxx has been under intense scrutiny for declining to prosecute "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett after Chicago Police found that he had lied about being the victim of a hate crime in January. Foxx recused herself from the case after Smollett's status went from victim to suspect in an alleged attack that turned out to be a hoax, according to law enforcement authorities. 

Since then, Foxx has been criticized for her handling of the case by law enforcement entities like the Fraternal Order of Police. She's also generated criticism for what some people say has been her lax handling of criminal suspects. 

Foxx has garnered both praise and criticism for her decriminalization measures, such as raising the bar for charging people for felony retail theft — from $300 to $1,000 worth of stolen merchandise. 

According to a recent report by the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Reclaim Chicago and the People's Lobby, the number of felony retail theft charges filed in Foxx's first two years dropped by 4,500 compared to the previous two years under her predecessor, former state's attorney Anita Alvarez. The report also showed that the violent crime rate in Chicago dropped by 8 percent. 

"I have said repeatedly that we have to fix the history in this county related to wrongful convictions," Foxx said in April. "I have spent the last two-and-a-half years dedicated to a conviction integrity unit that has vacated over 83 convictions." 

Boykin, however, pushed back against Foxx's record of decriminalization and reprised one of the themes of his tenure as commissioner. While in office Boykin advocated for tougher penalties for perpetrators of gun violence, such as charging them as domestic terrorists. 

"The role of the prosecutor is not about how many people you don't prosecute or how many people you let out of jail — the role of the prosecutor is to speak up for victims of violence and go after perpetrators," Boykin said. "Criminal justice reform should not get in the way of making sure our neighborhoods are safer and ensuring that people living in these communities aren't living in terror." 

Boykin also said that Foxx's office lacks morale and does not have a good relationship with law enforcement authorities. 

"The rule of law matters and you have to enforce the law," Boykin said. I've talked to law enforcement throughout the county and they're very concerned and troubled about the lack of relationship with the state's attorney's office."  

Boykin — who has flirted with bids for the U.S. Senate and the Cook County board presidency in the past before ultimately deciding against running for those offices — said that he will announce whether or not he'll run for state's attorney in September.

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com 

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